Thank you, Divine Magazine for having me here today! I’m Meghan Maslow and I’m here to talk about my new release, Ride Along, a contemporary novella from Dreamspinner Press in the States of Love line which comes out in stores today.
Ride Along is my first contemporary romance and it was a pleasure to spend time with Drew and Josh to get to know their story. It’s set in Maryland, in both Baltimore and a smaller city called Greenbelt. It’s the story of two men who on the surface are very different, but come to recognize that they are better together.
You know the old adage, write what you know? One of my beta readers complained it was difficult to critique this particular manuscript because one of the main characters (Drew) shared some similarities with my life.
Huh. I scratched my head, thought about it. Since I tend to write paranormal, mystery, or fantasy pieces, I’d never had anyone say this to me before. Our resulting conversation went something like this:
“I don’t see it,” I told her. (Did I mention I can be stubborn?).
“Um, Drew has dreadlocks.”
“Yeah, but his are ginger. Mine are. . . well sort of blue at the moment.” Super different, obviously.
“He lives in the same type of house.”
“Yeah, but his has less bedrooms and a galley kitchen.” See, different.
“He decorates his home with African art.”
“Sure, but his tastes run to West African art, while mine run to East and Southern African.” Duh. Completely different.
Okay, so there might have been this long, awkward pause.
I joke about this, but I really didn’t see the similarities. The surface ones above, absolutely. But neither main character has the type of family relationships I do, nor are they put together emotionally in the same way that I function. I suspect that’s why when my beta reader kindly pointed out the similarities I was surprised—I saw more of the differences, if anything.
Ride Along does contain life events that most of us are familiar with—recovering from a bad break up, trying to do the right thing but having it go terribly wrong, negotiating tricky family dynamics, and following dreams. I could look to any of these and find in my own life similar instances. Yet, while each similar experience I’ve had gives me a better understanding of how the characters might feel or react, in the end, both Josh and Drew are distinctly different from me—both in the particulars of their situation, but also how they choose to react and internalize those experiences. So to me, write what you know isn’t about the window dressing. It’s finding a certain commonality in human experience and then allowing those characters to come to their own understanding and ways to react to those experiences.
But okay I do know something about dreadlocks, Maryland, and African art, so yeah, I threw that in too. Everything’s fodder for the grist mill, after all. And in case you’re wondering, my beta reader got over her worry of offending me—it’s actually pretty hard to offend me—and gave me a well thought out critique that helped make the story what it is today.
Drew Nolan is a loud-and-proud mystery writer with a brutal case of writer’s block. He needs practical experience with the Baltimore police beat to get his latest manuscript to his publisher on time. When he wins a ride-along at a writer’s conference, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot… until he meets his partner.
Closeted cop Josh de Oliveira lost his family, his partner, and the respect of his unit—all for doing the right thing. Recently busted back down to patrol, he’s relieved to get a cushy assignment at the Author’s Police Institute where he’ll take one lucky writer on a ride-along. Unfortunately, his author looks like he belongs in the backseat of Josh’s squad car—long, ginger dreadlocks, piercings, and an “I would bottom you so hard” T-shirt. But there’s something about Drew Josh is having a hard time resisting.
It’s going to be a long night and one hell of a ride as opposites attract and realize they share a lot in common beneath the surface. As animosity becomes desire, they realize they can help each other out—in more ways than one.
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Josh couldn’t wait to taste Drew, feel him against him—his hands itched to get ahold of all that ginger. Drew had gone on ahead, so no one would suspect Josh would be following. When he locked up the cruiser, there were a couple squad cars still in the parking garage at the conference center. The officers must have just come back with their ride-alongs too. That meant they’d be in the bar. . .
Josh found a bank of elevators as far from the bar as possible, then pushed the Up button.
When the doors slid open, he came face-to-face with Drew’s little champion. Before he could say anything, he heard Martin’s distinctive voice coming their way. Shit.
Josh darted into the elevator and hit the fourth-floor button. The doors slid closed before Drew’s friend was able to get out.
“Sorry, ma’am. My fault,” Josh muttered, refusing to look her in the eye. Damn, he really didn’t need another lecture on manners today.
“I thought he was an ass too,” she said.
His gaze snapped to her face. “Excuse me?”
“That other officer.” She shook her head. “Don’t get me wrong, you were rude and all, but I knew it was because you were attracted to my friend. But that other guy… total douche canoe. Up the river without a paddle.”
She tilted her head and her eyes narrowed. Uh-oh.
“What are you doing in the elevator anyway, Officer? Going to visit a friend?” She adjusted those ridiculously big frames on her nose, like she was trying to get a better look.
“Yep. A friend.” Josh leaned back like he hadn’t a care in the world, but he could see she wasn’t fooled. She’d be perfect to sweat someone in the box. She’d get the perps to talk in no time. Hell, Josh wanted to blurt out what he was doing just to get her to stop looking at him like that. Only his years as a cop prevented him from confessing all. Maybe she could be their new secret weapon. God knows they needed one in this crazy city.
It had to be the slowest elevator ride of all time. Josh cleared his throat. She kept him in her focus the whole ride, but didn’t say another word. She knew. He knew she knew. She knew he knew. Awkward. When the elevator dinged and the doors slid open, he almost sprinted.
“Have a good night, ma’am.” He waved.
“Tell Drew I expect details in the morning.” Her laughter filled the hallway until the doors closed.
Her initials say it all. . .
Meghan Maslow is truly a rare breed. No, not a unicorn (although that would be sooo cool). She’s a. . . gasp!. . . extroverted writer. It may seem counterintuitive that as someone who is energized by people, she spends most of her time alone. Yet, that’s the case. And she doesn’t mind.
If she gets writers block or starts to go a little stir crazy, she heads to a coffee shop, a restaurant, a friend’s place—anywhere to fill up her need for human contact. It also helps that she spends a lot of time with the voices in her head. Some of them are really quite opinionated.
She loves writing gay romance because she’s a sap for a happy ending, and she believes everyone—regardless of orientation—should be able to find books that have them.
She believes life is for living, kindness is contagious, and a good book makes the world a better place. She loves travel, reading, world music, Moscow Mules, awkward dancing, dreadlocks, her family, and um. . . writing.